Review by Jonalogic September 22, 2010 (11 of 13 found this review helpful)
|I'm with the doubters on this one, I'm afraid.
This recording bears absolutely no resemblance to the other two fine Living Stereos on SACD that Van Cliburn has left us - the Beethoven/Schumann and Tchaikovsky/Rachmaninov(2).
VC sounds drained of fire and energy. The live Rachmaninov 3 fares badly, with lumpen playing and a plethora of errors; the orchestra gets into the act on occasions, as well. Sorry, I just cannot recommend this. Seek out the astonishing Stephen Hough on Hyperion - also live - to hear what this should sound like. What a a performance!
The Prokofiev fares better - at least the studio takes ironed out the errors. But the playing is again sluggish, with the necessary bite, tongue-in-cheek wit and joie de vivre. It's all too slow and heavy for this quicksilver music. Again, the competition cleans up. In historic recordings, the ground-breaking Janis (with Kondrashin and the Moscow Phil) on Mercury betters this in every way. Turning to modern recordings, the Kempff on BIS is a quieter and more laid back performance, but in fine sound.
Oh, the sound, thought I'd never get to that...
I don't think it's any secret by now that I hold Living Steroes in high regard. But all rules are made to be broken. The Rachmaninov (Pfeiffer/Begley) sounds pretty awful- close, muddy, bloated and scratchy. It's live, I know, but even being charitable, it doesn't stand up well.
Then, a total contrast- the Prokofiev, judged on SQ only, is exceptionally fine - transparent, natural, with a fine hall sound and immaculate balance between soloist and orchestra. Needless to say, this is a Mohr/Layton effort.
I can only recommend this recording if you want to hear the two extremes of sound quality on LSCs!
I have split the SQ rating - 2 for the Rach, 5 for the Prokofiev. That makes 3.5 for the whole disc.
Was this review helpful to you?